The hit Broadway musical “Mamma Mia!” follows a young woman on the verge of marriage and plight to find the father she never knew.
It’s all set to the music of Swedish pop group ABBA. But for John Bisom, who stars in the show, it’s more than just a theatrical experience.
“It’s really kind of like being in a rock concert at times because people are singing along or dancing in the aisle,” Bisom said.
Bisom said that’s what makes “Mamma Mia!” which stops May 17 at Arizona State University’s Gammage Auditorium, special for audiences.
“Many people know these songs and they’re so much fun,” he said. “I grew up listening to this music and it’s very feel-good stuff to sing and dance to.”
Set on a Greek island, “Mamma Mia!” centers on Sophie, who is about to marry her fiance, Sky. But she longs to be walked down the aisle by her father, who she doesn’t know.
Sophie discovers in her mother’s diary there are three men who could be her dad. So she invites all three men to her wedding, without her mom’s permission.
The musical debuted on Broadway in 2001 and was nominated for five Tony Awards. It still plays in New York, along with other international productions and a U.S. national tour.
For many years, Bisom auditioned for “Mammia Mia!” and finally landed the role of Sam, a potential father for Sophie.
“This is such a great show to be a part of because it’s a feel-good musical,” he said. “Plus, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t go away humming these songs.”
“Mamma Mia!” features a vast catalog of the music group’s hits, including “Super Trouper,” “Lay All Your Love On Me,” “Dancing Queen,” “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” “Take A Chance On Me,” “Thank You for the Music,” “Money, Money, Money,” “The Winner Takes It All,” “Voulez Vous” and “SOS.”
The show also is part of a long line of jukebox musicals, in which the songs of popular musical artists are turned into a play.
Many jukebox musicals haven’t survived, but “Mammia Mia!” is considered a huge success.
“This show is about self-discovery, secrets, relationships and all of it is set to the music of ABBA,” he said. “And it’s proof positive that jukebox musicals can work if you have the right music attached a wonderful story.”